About the Arthritis Foundation
The Arthritis Foundation is the only national, voluntary health agency seeking the causes, cures, preventions and treatments for the more than 100 forms of arthritis. The Foundation provides community-based programs, raise funds, and to advocate for arthritis patients nationally and regionally.
The Arthritis Foundation also provides community-based services, including:
- Self-help courses
- Water- and land-based exercise classes
- Instructional videotapes
- Public forums
- A wide variety of free educational brochures and booklets
- The national, bi-monthly consumer magazine Arthritis Today
- Continuing education courses and publications for health professionals
The mission of the Arthritis Foundation is to improve lives through leadership in the prevention, control and cure of arthritis and related diseases.
Since it was founded in 1948, the Arthritis Foundation has experienced steady growth and has made great strides in the treatment of the many forms of arthritis. The Foundation has been a tremendous sponsor of research and has spent $400 million in the last 60 years to support more than 2,000 scientists and physicians in arthritis research. In 2007 alone, the Foundation made $14 million in grants to more than 200 researchers.
In the 1940s, the consensus among the medical community and the public was that nothing could be done about arthritis. However, this conclusion was unacceptable to the American Rheumatism Association, a group of approximately 300 physicians with advanced knowledge and training in rheumatic diseases. Inspired by successes in treating such conditions as polio, this group of physicians helped to form the Arthritis and Rheumatism Foundation.
The Foundation got off to a fast start. In its first years it established chapters around the country and raised funds to support research and education initiatives. By the end of its first year, 13 chapters had been established and more than $500,000 had been raised. This first campaign, chaired by Bob Hope, funded research and chapter-based arthritis clinics in hospitals.
The 1950s and early 1960s, Foundation-sponsored research was directed toward educating the medical community and the public. For the medical community, this was marked by the first national conference held in Bethesda, Md., in 1953.
With the 1960s came great change for the Foundation, including its name. In 1964 the Arthritis and Rheumatism Foundation became the Arthritis Foundation.
In 1972, May was designated National Arthritis Month by Congress and the President. This month serves as a pivotal opportunity for emphasizing research, service, education and fund raising. In 1974, the “National Arthritis Act” was passed. The first arthritis legislation in more than 25 years, the act officially recognized arthritis as a major health problem. The act authorized funds to develop arthritis centers, assist medical schools in adding arthritis programs, and establish a national commission to create long-range plans to combat arthritis. In addition, the establishment of the National Institute of Arthritis, Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) within the National Institutes of Health gave new focus to arthritis research in America.
In the 1980s, the Foundation formed the American Juvenile Arthritis Organization (AJAO), a section designed to address the needs of children with arthritis. The Foundation also launched Arthritis Today, a national magazine designed to help people with arthritis live better lives.
In recent years, the Arthritis Foundation championed revision of Social Security Administration rules on children’s disability benefits and strongly supported the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) of 1996.
In 2000, the Arthritis Foundation successfully advocated to Congress in the Children’s Health Act provisions focusing on juvenile arthritis including mandating a federal study to document the shortage of pediatric rheumatologists. In 2007, the Health Resources and Services Administration, Department of Health and Human Services, published the Pediatric Rheumatology Workforce: A Study of the Supply and Demand for Pediatric Rheumatologists which called for national solutions to the 75% shortage of pediatric rheumatologists. (http:// bhpr.hrsa.gov/healthworkforce/reports/ped_rheumatology/default.htm)
Over the past decade, due to Arthritis Foundation advocacy, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's arthritis program was established at $10 million and has grown to a $13 million program and funds 12 states to implement arthritis programs and evidence based strategies to reduce the incidence of arthritis. Since 2004, the Arthritis Foundation has promoted the passage of the Arthritis Prevention, Control and Cure Act, HR 1283/S. 626, the first comprehensive arthritis legislation in the past 30 years. The Arthritis bill enjoys the support of over 240 Representatives of Congress and 54 Senators and is awaiting Committee attention and floor passage.